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Funny, Peculiar: The True Story of Benny Hill [Paperback]

Mark Lewisohn
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 April 2003
The definitive biography of the international TV comedy icon; Benny Hill's saucy smirks at underdressed women are relished the world over. Yet the comedian cut an unlikely figure of global admiration: unmarried and emotionally enfeebled in his few relationships, he was a deeply private individual uninterested in the trappings of success, a frugal man content to live in his humble childhood home flooded, freezing and burgled while his building society account bulged with millions of pounds he didn't use and hand't wanted to earn. Funny Peculiar is the first objective and full account of Benny Hill's life and work. Tenaciously researched and yet sensitively reported, it charts the highs, lows and many paradoxes of a man whose professional strengths - observation impression and mime - bought him unimagined success, and whose weakness, especially an inability to change, fashioned his ultimate downfall.

Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (4 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330393405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330393409
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,160 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Riveting and unexpectedly sympathetic' Craig Brown, Mail On Sunday; 'A revelation... entertaining and exhaustively researched' Kathryn Flett. Observer

Book Description

Benny Hill's saucy smirks and lascivious glances at underdressed women are relished across all continents by all creeds. Yet he cut an unlikely figure of global admiration: he was a deeply private individual, a loner, uninterested in money and the trappings of success. With the circus and sex in his background (his father sold condoms worldwide from a Southampton backstreet shop) Benny combined the two in a career that, after many struggles, took off in the earliest days of television. Acclaimed in the 1950s as the first British TV comedy superstar, loved for his pioneering ideas and mild 'seaside-postcard' humour, Hill's popularity remained undimmed for decades. But in the 1980s, just as he became a hit in more than 100 countries, he was reviled in Britain. His innuendo-strewn humour was branded sexist, a charge he could not comprehend. Unmarried and emotionally enfeebled in his few meaningful relationships, Benny's primary aim was to be seen in the company of scantily clad women. His TV show enabled this, but its sudden end in 1989 was followed by a self-inflicted decline in his health. Benny died in 1992, his body lay undiscovered for two days and the destiny of his £7m estate was controversial. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, Recommended 21 July 2002
By A Customer
This is a fascinating, first-rate biography of one of the twentieth century's most beloved comedy figures; a man who is now largely overlooked in his home country despite having been its most successful comic export outside of Charlie Chaplin. Benny Hill was a complex man who led a simple (if somewhat peculiar) life, and this book provides tremendous insight into not only his personal foibles and professional endeavors, but also the motivations and reasons for his intriguing private behavior and public rise and fall. Drawing on extensive research and fresh interviews with many of the key figures in Benny's life, Mark Lewisohn's writing combines warmth, empathy and humor with analysis, objectivity and attention to detail -- the comic inventiveness and outright stealing of other artists' ideas; the abnormally excessive frugality; the sexual indulgences and hopelessly failed relationships... whether you want to know about the man's career, his love life or the fact that he just loved a quick game of Kalooki, it's all here. Buy this book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography for a comedy legend 30 April 2005
Every book I have read by Mark Lewisohn is well written and researched and this one is no exception.
He writes with affection about the life and career of Benny Hill and does not reduce the book to tabloid levels of scandal and scurrillous gossip but portrays a vivid and well researched picture of Benny's life. A life that strived for comedy perfection.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars well worth reading................. 29 Oct 2002
This absorbing biography of Benny Hill the most successful TV comedian the world has ever known is a well written engrossing book which starts with a small history of his family before a well researched beginning of his life before he was famous,Hill was a clown ever since he was a boy and with showbusiness in his families blood it was obvious that he would go into the 'business'.
Unfortunately Benny suffered from bad nerves when 'live' on stage but a salvation was at hand TV from the early 1950's Hill was one of televisions biggest stars a position he would hold for nearly 35 years until his shock sacking by Thames Tv in 1989.This book reveals a lonely man who didnt mind being on his own he lived for his TV shows and it was no surprise that he died just 3 years after they ended refusing potentially life saving heart surgery.All in all a good well written book which gives the reader a real insight into Hills life especially as this isnt the first biography to be published by any means.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Benny the oddball 26 April 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This meticulously researched book is a great read, marred only by some sloppy writing at times, and a bit too heavy -- for my liking -- on the author's own opinions. The author doesn't seem to like Benny very much. I found myself going off to Youtube to see some of Benny's TV and film work talked about, and it's surprising the obscure stuff that's out there. It came as a surprise to me how much of Benny's material was recycled, and how much was simply nicked rom other people. I definitely recommend this book to Benny fans, and as you might expect from Mark Lewisohn, there are very complete listings of Benny's TV, Radio and film appearances.
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